The Dominican Republic’s best-kept secret
A tiny, isolated destination in the heart of the Caribbean, Samana Bay offers the best of the Dominican Republic with unspoilt forests, pristine beaches, karst islands, and more. Get swept up in the charm of a preserved region and embark on an authentic adventure.
A grand national park in the Dominican Republic
It is one of the country’s unmissable gems and one of the highlights of a holiday in the Dominican Republic. With 600 km2 of virgin forests and undamaged mangroves, Los Haitises National Park offers a myriad of unique coastal landscapes, making it a paradise for nature lovers. Admire unspoilt flora and fauna from the park’s incredible hiking trails: you often encounter pelicans and egrets here, as well as manatees and dolphins.
The highlight of the show is undoubtedly the series of karst islands dotted along the park’s coast. A few dozen metres high and sculpted by time, these formations resemble those found in the sumptuous Halong Bay in Vietnam. Some are pitted with magnificent caves where you can admire rock carvings and paintings by the Taíno, a pre-Colombian people who occupied the Caribbean region before the Spanish conquest. The name “Los Haitises” means “hilly lands” in the Taíno language. This precious heritage is why the park is a listed UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Unspoilt beaches all around Samana Bay
If you love fine sandy beaches, then this is the place for you: Samana Peninsula has plenty of pristine beaches with crystal-clear waters. It is impossible to say which is the most beautiful, so pick a beach based on the vibe you want instead!
The beaches around Las Galeras, a charming fishing village at the end of the peninsula, are known for their beauty and tranquillity. Discover stretches of white sand, a few boats under the coconut trees and… that’s it. They’re the perfect place to enjoy water sports in peace! La Playita Beach (meaning “small beach”) is an exception, with a more family-friendly vibe: a small restaurant and kayak rental services mean there’s a bit more going on, but it still retains its idyllic charm. Children love its crystal-clear, shallow waters where they can swim safely. Finally, Playa Fronton Beach is less suitable for relaxing due to the currents, but this makes it perfect for snorkelling. The waters are teeming with life, which can easily be seen from the surface.
Further north, you can find a different kind of beach: Playa Lanza del Norte with its surprisingly caramel-coloured sand. It is often deserted and is the perfect end to an excursion in this particularly wild area.
Las Terrenas, pura vida
On the north coast of Samana Peninsula, the town of Las Terrenas is Caribbean to a tee. Here, the houses are brightly coloured, the restaurants cook local produce, and the inhabitants make a living from fishing and crafts.
Las Terrenas is also the ideal base for exploring the north of the peninsula, especially the coffee, cocoa and vanilla plantations. Then you can return to the town to enjoy the local flavours of the restaurants and the exotic and festive seaside atmosphere.
The Samana Peninsula’s inland region is just as stunning as its shores. The majority is covered by vast tropical forests where you can easily go on excursions amidst the unspoilt vegetation. Highlights include the sumptuous El Limon waterfall, a 50-metre-high waterfall in the heart of the jungle. It is accessible on foot or horseback via a rocky path providing superb views of the surrounding nature. You can even take a dip in the waterfall’s translucent waters – the perfect way to cool down after the short hike!
Fancy an adrenaline rush? A host of zip wires cross the Samana jungle, allowing you to move between platforms above the treetops. The most impressive platform is probably the one overlooking the lush El Valle valley in the heart of the peninsula. It’s a fun way to enjoy outstanding views.
Photos credits : © Istock
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